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Cough syrup sex assault trial hears experts differ on side effects of drugs

THE trial of a businessman who claims his cholesterol medication caused him to sexually assault a woman has heard conflicting medical evidence about the effects the drug can have.

Anthony Lyons (51), an aviation broker, from Griffith Avenue, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting a 27-year-old woman on October 3, 2010.

Lyons admits the attack but claims he was overcome with an irresistible urge due to the combination of alcohol, the cholesterol medicine Rosuvastatin and cough syrup.

A medical expert for the prosecution told the jury that there is no evidence that cholesterol medication can cause increased aggression and that even if it did, Lyons was not on it long enough for it to take effect.

An expert witness for the defence pointed to several instances of patients on such medications becoming aggressive. He also said the speed they can affect the human brain cannot be know for certain as the drugs have only been tested on rat brains.

Lyons' friend and sometime business partner Conor McCarthy also gave evidence that the accused was a quiet, level-headed man who had "impeccable" behaviour in the company of women.

He told Patrick Gageby, defending, that the attack was "completely out of character".

The court heard Lyons claimed he began taking Rosuvastatin the day before the attack to reduce his cholesterol.

Prof Alice Stanton, who is a specialist in clinical pharmacology, said clinical trials of Rosuvastatin provided no evidence that it caused increased irritability, aggression or violence.

She said there was a study 20 years ago which associated low cholesterol with violent behaviour but added that "association does not mean causation".


She also pointed out that the accused's cholesterol was above average and that there is no way the drug could have reduced it significantly in that time frame

She told prosecuting counsel, Kerida Naidoo, that Lyons' consumption of cough syrup and alcohol would have no effect on the levels of Rosuvastatin in his body. She also stated that the drug has great difficulty in reaching the brain and that if it does, it takes a long time. She said Lyons was not on the drug long enough for it to reach his brain.

Lyon's defence counsel called Dr Malcolm Vandenburg to give evidence about the potential cognitive effects of Rosuvastatin.

The doctor pointed to a case study which listed several patients who were on similar types of medication and showed highly aggressive behaviour including one man who chased his wife around the room.

Dr Vandenburg said he disputed Prof Stanton's opinion that the medication didn't have enough time to reach the brain. He said there is no way of knowing how fast it can reach the brain. The trial continues.